The Salt Lake Tribune reporter Lisa Schencker writes for the Religion News Service about those left behind by the person who commits suicide and how different religions are changing their thinking about the sin of suicide:

DRAPER, Utah (RNS) As young brothers, Kris and Kourt McGuire often spent hours chasing the shimmering dragonflies that floated above a lush, green pasture behind their house.

One day, when their mom told them to come inside to clean their room, they silently obeyed — or so she thought. After a time, she went to check on the two youngest of her four sons. She found their bedroom alive with dragonflies, which they had tied with strings hung from the ceiling.

She smiled, and they all broke into laughter.

It’s one of Lyn McGuire’s favorite recollections of the two boys — a memory that predates the heartache of losing them both.

Kris died at age 8 in 1986, when a car hit him on the way to school. Kourt died about 10 years later, at age 17, killing himself amid depression and the still-stinging absence of his older brother.

Through the years, Ken and Lyn McGuire have found comfort in images of dragonflies, which now fill their home. The dragonflies remind them of warm memories and hope for the future.

They also hope to bring that sense of comfort to other survivors of suicide, and they see the Mormon faith as part of that effort, not an obstacle.

That wasn’t always the case. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, like many other religions, used to focus largely on what they saw as the sin of killing oneself.

In fact, it used to be that Mormons who committed suicide could not have church funerals or be buried in temple clothing. Likewise, Catholics who committed suicide in past decades were not allowed Christian burials, said Scott Dodge, deacon at the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City’s Cathedral of the Madeleine. And until about 20 years ago, many evangelicals assumed those who committed suicide were headed to hell, said Greg Johnson, president of the Standing Together Ministries coalition of evangelical churches.

Today, though most religions still condemn suicide, there’s an understanding in many faiths that those who take their own lives don’t always have full control over their actions.

“What the (Catholic) church tends to recognize now,” Dodge said, “is that most people who (commit suicide) suffer from probably a grave psychological problem or really deep depression or sometimes, sadly, that happens in the grips of some kind of addiction.”

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